Should children have more choice over how they learn digitally?

How choice can give children more autonomy

Asking a child if they’d prefer an apple or a banana can determine their personality.

According to psychologist Erik Erikson, giving children choice brings a sense of autonomy. This means our apple and banana kids will grow up with healthy personalities. And, get one of their five a day.

The Children’s Media Summit 2017 looked at technology’s role in the future of our children. Education was a strong theme. Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC, talked of how technology gives more ways to learn.

David Coplin, Chief Officer of The Envisoners stated “the future is not linear.” Neither are our children — they are chaotic, playful and experimental. These are qualities he felt we should nurture for their growth. Qualities not encouraged in repressive Victorian teaching methods practiced today. David begs for change. Change that welcomes technology that prepares children for their future.

Choice leads to discovery

Dragonbox is a game that challenges children to solve algebra. Its designer, Gonzalo Frasca defined fun as a “product of challenge.” Through gamification, he found children became less fearful of algebra, which improved ability. Children learnt by discovery. Discovery gave children the choice to find their own processes to solve maths problems.

Personalisation encourages curiosity and discovery. Tony spoke of the BBC’s initiatives to stimulate children’s minds by discovering content. Chris Williams of Pocket Watch and Michelle Guthrie of ABC hope to aid discovery with non-linear content. Returning to Erik Erikson’s findings, choice helps build a child’s character.

Choice should be managed

David Coplin argued “autonomous” cars would never be self-sufficient. Humans need to maintain them.

We might want our children to become autonomous learners. But they still need our guidance. Giving children choice in a safe environment came up again and again. Like our children, we are still learning — learning about technology.

Letting our kids pick which fruit they want from the bowl though? That’s okay.